Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

3o6                             THE GAY GENIUS

and co-extensive with the universe. Completely at ease, he revels in
the material well-being; fully aware of what is going around him,
yet his mind is idle and free. When the room is full of guests, his
only worry is that the barrels may run out; careless of all posthumous
fame, the only weighty object seems to be that precious cup. Yod
cannot make nightshirts out of pearls, nor subsist upon jades thai
glow in the night. The best food fills your belly, but cannot stimulate
your spirit; the best dress gives you warmth, but cannot delight your
soul. Of all things in the universe, only This One enables you to
transcend the material world. Truly, it is something that one cannot
go without for a day. What is this intoxicating potion which intoxi-
cates you and yet clarifies your mind, which sets you at ease with
yourself and enables you to perceive the ultimate truths of life?" \

1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I                                                                :

Su was not only a connoisseur of liquor and a good sampler, he made
his own wines. In his brief period at Tingchow he had experimented
with a kind of wine made with tangerines, and with a pine wine, which
was sweet and slightly bitter. In his dithyramb about this, he mentioned
the boiling of pine resin, but it is not clear how he made the wine. At
Huichow he made cinnamon wine and ^for the first time tasted a
particular product of south China, chiutse. This was rice wine taken
before it was fully fermented and contained very little alcohol; in effect,
it was like souring ale. Once in the introductory note to a poem he
mentioned tRat while he was straining the wine, he kept on drinking
it until he got dead drunk. In a letter to a friend he gave the formula
for making the "Wine of Divine Unity". This divine wine consisted
of the holy trinity of white flour, glutinous rice, and pure spring watejf
and it was the colour of jade. The very best quality of wheat flour was
mixed with yeast and was made into yeast cakes which were hung up
to dry for two months. Then he boiled one bushel of rice and after
taking it out and rinsing it under running water, let it stand to dry.
Then he took three ounces of the yeast cake, ground it into a fine
powder, and mixed it thoroughly with the rice. This was then put in
a jar and packed very tightly, leaving a conical depression in the centre.
Some of the yeast powder was reserved to sprinkle on the surface of the
fermenting liquid in the hole at the centre. When sufficient liquid was
formed, the packed rice was cut open and new boiled rice was added to
it at the rate of three pecks for every bushel of the original content,
together with two bowls of boiled water. After three to five days, about
six quarts,of good wine were formed, but the length of the period
varied with the weather. In a hot season one should decrease the
amount of yeast by half an ounce.

It is fair to assume that Su Tungpo was a competent dabbler in wine-
making rather than a real expert. Wine-making ^vas merely his hobby.